Sporting KC Takes First Place in East
KANSAS CITY, KS - September 28, 2011 - Sporting Kansas City overcame the Columbus Crew by a 2-1 scoreline Wednesday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The win sees Sporting Kansas City take sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with just three matches left to play in the 2011 MLS regular season.
A Kei Kamara penalty kick was temporarily cancelled out by a strike on the counterattack from Crew forward Emilio Renteria, but a Julius James own goal in the 74th minute ensured all three points for Sporting Kansas City in front of a midweek crowd of 17,838 fans. The match also marked the 237th regular appearance for captain Davy Arnaud, equaling the club record held by current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin.
Sporting Kansas City would earn the first chance of the match in just the sixth minute of play from a set piece. Following a foul on Arnaud just over the halfway line, Graham Zusi served a free kick into the area that was flicked on well by Aurelien Collin. Collin’s flick found Omar Bravo lurking at the far post, but the Designated Player had his juggle and volley effort turned away well by Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer at the near post.
Kamara’s goal from the penalty spot put Sporting Kansas City in front in the 15th minute. With Columbus building out of midfield, Chance Myers stepped up and intercepted a pass outside of the area. Myers fed rookie forward C.J. Sapong who drove into the box and was felled by Crew defender Chad Marshall. Referee Hilario Grajeda pointed to the spot and Kamara duly converted, sending Hesmer the wrong way for his ninth goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Columbus answered back with a chance of their own. With time on the ball and space down the right, Crew defender Sebastian Miranda whipped a teasing cross into the Sporting Kansas City penalty area. The service was angled behind the backline and intended for Andres Mendoza, but the forward could not reach the cross in time to direct an effort on goal.
The Crew would earn a second consecutive chance in the 35th minute, and this time they converted. Midfielder Robbie Rogers, running in space down the left channel, played a pass for Renteria streaking towards the penalty area. With time and space to take a series of touches, Renteria finished low past Jimmy Nielsen to level the score at 1-1.
In the 40th minute, Sporting nearly retook the lead through another set piece. From a free kick near midfield, Zusi drove a ball straight towards the near post that was taken early by Matt Besler. The All-Star centerback whipped around the struck the ball over his shoulder with his left foot, but the effort fizzed just over the bar as the two sides went into the halftime break.
The first chance after the halftime break fell to Sporting Kansas City. With the ball at the edge of the area, Zusi curled in a cross that was knocked down in the area by a recovering Shaun Francis. The ball fell for an onrushing Myers, but the defender’s low strike on goal was deflected off the post by James.
In the 73rd minute Crew midfielder Dilly Duka created a chance for himself, cutting inside of Seth Sinovic before hitting a low drive straight at Nielsen. Just a minute later, Sporting Kansas City would go in front again. A throw-in from the right touchline by Besler was hurled into the penalty area with power. Multiple players from both sides rose to get their head to it, but in the end it was James who directed the throw into his own goal, the ball flicking behind him and looping over Hemmer.
The Crew very nearly equalized in the 85th minute, when Mendoza had two attempts denied in the area. A long ball out of the back from James was dummied by substitute forward Tommy Heinemann, who allowed the ball to run beyond him for Mendoza. Mendoza took a touch to set himself before firing a shot that was turned away from close range by Nielsen. The Peruvian forward then collected the rebound, but fired high of goal under pressure from Besler.
Sporting Kansas City will next travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes at 9:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, October 1st at Buck Shaw Stadium. The match will be shown live on KSMO-TV, beginning with a 30-minute pre-game show.
No Beckham, No Problem
COLUMBUS, OH - September 24, 2011 - A sellout crowd saw a Chad Barrett goal in stoppage time as the LA Galaxy slipped past the hometown Crew by a 1-0 margin.
The Galaxy (17-3-10) would be without several key players such as Robbie Keane, David Beckham, and Donovan Ricketts. Keane and Ricketts made the trip to Columbus, but Beckham did not. Landon Donovan entered the game as a substitute, registering 28 minutes in the Galaxy victory. Columbus (11-11-8) is still without defender defender Rich Balchan and midfielder Eddie Gaven.
The first half was back and forth with the Galaxy dominating the first 15 minutes. Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens and forward Adam Cristman each had chances to put something on the board in the 8th and 15th minutes respectively. Crew midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo launched a beautiful through ball to Designated Player Andres Mendoza in the 18th, but the Peruvian striker couldn't finish.
Halftime would end with nothing on the scoreboard as both teams could claim positives and negatives in their first half play. LA would have an advantage in shots, corner kicks, and saves. Columbus could claim a lead in shots on goal, fouls, and offsides.
There seemed to be a shift in momentum in the second half as the Crew fed off the energy of their largest crowd since October 4, 2008. A Chad Marshall header from 10 yards out ended with a goalmouth clearance from Stephens in the 48th minute. Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders would be called upon in the 55th to deal with a shot by the Crew's Josh Gardner. Saunders would finish the night with 8 saves; several of them could certainly be deemed "world-class".
A great atmosphere got a bit livelier when Crew forward Emilio Renteria enter the game in the 65th minute. Almost every Crew opportunity from that point involved the Venezuelan striker, whose speed and physicality energized the Columbus attack.
"The second half, since Emilio came in, the game came alive," Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha stated. "He still created chances."
Renteria kept the pressure on the LA defense into extra time, where the tables turned cruelly against the hometown Crew.
In the 93rd minute, Captain America, Landon Donovan himself, launched a shot that would be deflected by Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer. Barrett would be there to collect the rebound and slot one past Hesmer, who was now out of position to deal with the strike.
The final whistle sounded with the Crew being left empty-handed, dropping points and falling out of first place in the East. LA moved yet a step closer to claiming the Supporters' Shield, having already clinched a spot in the playoffs. Columbus faces Sporting KC on the road Wednesday, while the Galaxy turn their attention to a very important CCL matchup against Morelia in another midweek matchup.
Le Toux's Goal Puts Union Past Crew
CHESTER, PA - September 17, 2011 - Featuring a lineup with an average age under 24, the Philadelphia Union (9-7-12, 39 points) snapped an eight-game winless drought Saturday, edging the first-place Columbus Crew (11-10-8, 41 points) 1-0 in front of an overflow crowd of 18,906.
Sebastien Le Toux tallied the match's lone goal off a long through ball from Roger Torres, while Zac MacMath and the defense held for Philadelphia's second consecutive shutout. Both sides came into Saturday’s game shorthanded with the Union missing Justin Mapp (quad strain), Veljko Paunović (calf strain) and Faryd Mondragón (broken finger). The Crew were without Chad Marshall (hip flexor strain), Emilio Rentiera (concussion), Eddie Gaven (lower leg contusion) and Emmanuel Ekpo (red card suspension).
In the end, Union moved within two points of first place, well within striking distance with six regular season matches remaining. Philadelphia's first and currently only Home Grown Player, 16-year-old Zach Pfeffer, drew the start, his first MLS appearance. Recently-signed midfielder Morgan Langley also earned his first MLS appearance, coming on in the 80th minute. In a match that was short on chances, a beautiful through ball from Torres to Le Toux in the 32nd minute was the difference when the Frenchman calmly finished for his seventh goal of the season and sixth in the last six games. Columbus' best chance of the match came in the 16th minute when leading scorer Andres Mendoza struck from distance, but his attempt was parried away by MacMath. It turned out to be the only shot on target for the Crew all game.
The Union return to action on Friday with a key road game against Sporting Kansas City, before hosting D.C. United next Thursday in the club's second-to-last home game.
Scrappy Draw for Crew and Dynamo
COLUMBUS, OH - September 14, 2011 - On the heels of a season ticket rally held at Columbus Commons earlier in the day, the Crew fought an unusual set of circumstances and found a way to earn a point against the Houston Dynamo, drawing 2-2 on Wednesday evening. MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Hunt Sports Group representatives were among the announced crowd of 10,709, seeing plenty of action, including a red card, two penalties and a late equalizer. In the 11th minute, Crew midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo appeared to retaliate against his ex-Crew teammate Adam Moffat, after receiving a tough challenge from Moffat just minutes earlier in the game, by knocking the Scotsman down with a high arm to the face.
Stunned by the call, the Crew looked to be on their back foot for the remainder of the first half as Houston dominated much of the attacking chances. In the 34th minute Moffat sprayed a beautiful cross-field pass to Jermaine Taylor on the right flank, setting up a great cross by Taylor finding the head of Je-Vaughn Watson who netted his first goal of the season and his MLS career. Watson, a veteran of the Jamaican Premier League, had a golden chance to add another goal to his name in the 54th minute, but his glancing header off a Corey Ashe crossed went just wide.
The second half saw the substitution of Eric Gehrig into the match for the injured Chad Marshall. The 10-man Crew was defiant and was not about to concede the match. Whether through on-the-fly adjustments or circumstances surrounding the Ekpo red-card, Andres Mendoza found himself playing in the middle of the park behind Tommy Heinemann. The combination actually began to turn the tide in the Crew's favor with Mendoza settling in as a part of the midfield. As the attacking movement became more frequent, the Crew began to put more shots on goal.
In the 63rd minute, with the Crew having a set piece on the left flank just outside the box, a deflection pushed the ball across the field to the Crew's Eric Gehrig. Collecting the ball, Gehrig placed the ball back into the quite crowded penalty area, causing another deflection, this time off the arm of Houston's Cam Weaver. Referee Chris Penso quickly called the penalty and Mendoza made quick work of it, leveling the score at 1-1. "Anytime you can put it in the back of the mixer, it's going to be dangerous and it worked out well for us," said Gehrig, referring to keeping the play alive to draw the penalty off the handball.
But the Crew did not stop attacking. A great chance for the Crew's Tommy Heinemann was stopped by an equally spectacular kick save by Dynamo keeper Tally Hall in the 73rd minute. The ensuing corner kick resulted first half hero, Je-Vaughn Watson defend a little to risky on the backend of the goal, high kicking Crew midfielder Dilly Duka square in the chest. Penso, once again not afraid to call a spade a spade, whistled for yet another Crew penalty. Mendoza finished off his second penalty of the night with a cheeky slow roller that fooled Tally Hall and trickled to the side netting, starting the celebration that would commence in the Nordecke seconds later.
Feeling the frustration mount from the Dynamo second half slump, who were 0-6-8 on the road heading into the match, second half sub Calen Carr scored the equalizer in the 86th minute off a combination of passes capped off by a Geoff Cameron cross. Carr, left unmarked in the penalty area, roofed the goal to come back and get a hard earned point from the 10-man Columbus Crew.
After the game, Columbus was content to walk away with something to show for their efforts, given the circumstances. "When you're down a man, set pieces are big. That [penalty] came off one. I'm glad we were able to get two and at least come out with a point," said Gehrig, entering the game for the injured Chad Marshall. Reports are indicating that Chad Marshall's hip injury does not appear to be serious as the MRI showed nothing of concern.
Dynamo Get Just 1 Point on the Road
COLUMBUS, OH - September 14, 2011- Battling for a spot in the MLS Playoffs, the Houston Dynamo drew 2-2 Wednesday night at Crew stadium, as the Texans gained a much needed point, but were disappointed in dropping the three points.
As nice as the point was for the Dynamo, the team knew they let some extra points drop, as the team possessed the ball for much of the game and two penalty kick conversions for Andres Mendoza of the Crew stopped Houston from climbing up the Eastern Conference.
Columbus welcomed back former Crew members Adam Moffat (who contributed an assist on the first goal) and Jason Garey (did not play).
The Dynamo remain in fourth in the Eastern conference with 36 points, tied with Philadelphia, and five behind East leading Crew. Most importantly for Houston, they are still two points ahead of DC United for the last spot in the playoff chase.
Houston jumped on top of the Crew early, as they maintained possession from kickoff. Je-Vaughn Watson scored his first goal of the year in the 34th minute against a 10-men Crew. Watson was fed a beautiful into the box and the Jamaican headed home the opener. Emanuel Ekpo was show the red card just 11 minutes in for serious foul play.
The Dynamo were still able to hold off the Crew attack as Houston held the ball in their attacking zone, trying to find the Crew stretched among their 10-men. They did a well enough job, holding the 1-nil lead into the half.
“They had a man down and we sat on (the ball),” Houston Dynamo head coach Domnic Kinnear said after the draw. “That’s what you do when you are a man up.”
Houston went up a man when Ekpo was red carded early. It looked as Ekpo did get his hand directly in the face of Moffat on the play. Unfortunately for Ekpo, referee Chris Penso was in front of the play and reached for the red card right away.
“I just turned around and got hit in the face,” Moffat said of the hit that got Ekpo ejected. “I don’t think (Emmanuel) meant it, but I was caught off-guard.”
In the second, Columbus were awarded with two different penalty calls only moments apart from each other , which helped them gain a 2-1 advantage. Mendoza went to goalie Toby Hall’s right on the first, then to his left or the second to convert each shot for goals number 10 and 11 on the year.
“I did not see the first penalty, but the second was an obvious foul,” Kinnear admitted. Watson had his boots up high, as his right foot connected with Dilly Duka, who had to be subbed.
Forward Calen Carr entered the match in the 68th minute for Will Bruin and scored the late equalizer, unguarded in the box. Carr’s strike tied the match up as Houston remain without a win on the road in the 2011 season.
Houston next host the San Jose Earthquakes this weekend before looking for their first away win of the year at Dallas a week from Saturday.
Lady Luck is No Fan of the Crew
COLUMBUS, OH - September 10, 2011 - Nothing went right for the hometown Columbus Crew (11-9-7) Saturday night as they stumbled to a 4-2 loss against rival Toronto FC.
Toronto (5-12-12) got off to a fast start, pushing the Crew defense to the brink early and often. Striker Nick Scoolsma put the visitors on the board in the 21st minute, which was a beginning of a long night for Columbus keeper Will Hesmer.
Ryan Johnson added to Toronto's lead right before halftime in the 42nd minute, putting another past Hesmer. The Crew went into the second half with a 2-0 deficit, but would not go away easily in front of 13,058 fans in the fortress also known as Crew Stadium.
A serious collision between Columbus forward Emilio Renteria and TFC keeper knocked both out of the game in the 65th minute with Frei looking the worst of the two after being helped, almost carried off the field.
Tommy Heinemann, the sub for Renteria, made his mark with energetic play, putting one past new Toronto keeper Milos Kocic just two minutes after entering the game. The 2-1 lead for Toronto certainly looked to be in jeopardy, playing on the road in front of a hostile with only a few dozen TFC supporters making the long trek.
Toronto responded with a long strike from Canadian national teamer Julian de Guzman in the 83rd, thus stalling a Crew comeback. Crew Designated Player Andres Mendoza cut the lead back to one just four minutes later with a beautiful shot that gave the home fans something to cheer about.
The good feelings for Crew supporters quickly died in stoppage time as Dutch sensation Danny Koevermans landed a goal and an insurmountable 4-2 lead with just minutes remaining. The match finished with the same score and sent the Trillium Cup north of the border for the first time.
"They didn't have anything to lose," Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha said when asked about falling to a team at the bottom of the table. "Basically we gave Seattle some easy goals and today we did the same. We can score five goals, but if we’re going to give away more, it’s not going to work."
It was obviously a disappointing night for Columbus, especially after the 6-0 drubbing by the Sounders still fresh in the mind. However, it was a positive experience for former Crew defender Andy Iro, who started in Toronto's backline.
"The fans were great to me here," Iro commented in a postgame interview. "It was just great seeing them and good seeing all of the organization, the people that made the previous four years of my life great. It's all love."
The Houston Dynamo know something about disappointment after today's 3-0 loss at the hands of Sporting KC. They will face the Crew on Wednesday night, facing a team that appears to be down after allowing 10 goals in two games. But the Crew will be looking to make a statement against Houston before heading out on the road.
Toronto FC Surprise Crew
COLUMBUS, OH - September 10, 2011 - Toronto FC had never beaten the Columbus Crew before Saturday night. In fact, they had only scored five times in their first five matches at Crew Stadium.
But, two strikes in either half was enough as the Reds win the Trillium Cup for the first time in four tries; winning the 4-2 decision Saturday night in Columbus.
“Anytime that you score four goals on the road, it’s a great compliment, it's not easy,” Toronto head coach Aron Winter said. “A win for the fans, finally against Columbus, is a good thing.”
The Reds drew 1-1 in the two teams’ previous meeting this year (in April at BMO Field).
TFC nearly had the opener on a corner in the opening minutes. Ryan Johnson knocked a shot from a corner towards Crew keeper Will Hesmer, who knocked the ball just enough away to keep TFC off the scoreboard.
Nick Soolsma took the lead for the Reds in the 21st minute. Columbus initially headed away the Toronto corner. As the Crew tried to push the defense up, Torsten Frings took a shot from 30 yards out. Emanuel Ekpo kept several Reds onside, as Soolma collected the initial shot, turned to goal and put the ball past Hesmer for the lead.
TFC continued to pile on the pressure and finished the half with a very respectable six shots on goal at the break and had the advantage on corners, 3-2.
Toronto got a solid performance from goalie Stefan Frei, who was returning from a knee injury, missing the last three TFC matches over the past month (Aug. 6).
The Reds certainly looked to help their cause in getting their first win over the Crew as they collected their second goal of the night. Ryan Johnson headed home a perfectly placed cross from Joao Plata to beat Hesmer and give Toronto the 2-0 lead three minutes from the half.
Toronto was happy with the 2-0 halftime score line, as they only scored five times at Crew Stadium entering Saturday’s competition.
Despite Frei’s terrific first half performance, he was knocked out soon after. On a Columbus Crew cross, Emilio Renteria and Frei met at the same time and both Reteria and Frei took part in a violent collision. Renteria was able to walk off on his own power, but Frei had to be helped to the locker room.
Right off the bat, replacement goalie Milos Kocic faced a tough shot and the Serbian surrendered the first Crew goal in the 67th minute. Ironically, it came from Renteria’s replacement, Tommy Heinemann.
Frei would be seen later limping out of the Toronto locker room to the TFC bus.
The Reds scored a much needed third, as Julian de Guzman picked the pocket of a Crew defender and slipped away the nail in the coffin with eight minutes of regular time remaining. For good measure, sub Danny Koevermans added a fourth for Toronto during the six minutes of stoppage.
TFC face Pumas Wednesday night in CONCACAF Champions League and return to the MLS tilt Saturday, September 17th at Colorado.
Crew Signs Head Coach Robert Warzycha to New Multi-Year Contract
COLUMBUS, OH - September 1, 2011 - The Columbus Crew and Hunt Sports Group announced today that they have signed head coach Robert Warzycha to a new multi-year contract. Per club policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.
“I believe Robert’s record speaks for itself and that he has unquestionably earned the opportunity to continue leading our club,” said Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers. “He has injected his vision and personality into our style of play, while perpetuating the culture of excellence we have built in recent years with his effective integration of new talent into our returning core group.”
Warzycha is currently in his third full season as the Crew’s head coach. One of the Black & Gold’s all-time greats on the field, he is now in his 10th season on the club’s coaching staff overall. In the midst of his tenure as an assistant coach, Warzycha also distinguished himself during a 16-game stint as the Crew’s interim head coach from July 12, 2005 through the end of that season. After taking over a 4-10-2 team, he went 7-6-3 the rest of the way.
Overall, Warzycha has posted a 45-29-28 regular-season record on the Crew sidelines and a 55-41-33 mark in all competitions. His .578 regular-season winning percentage is the best in club history, and his teams have fashioned a 30-8-11 record and .724 winning percentage at home. In his first full season at the helm, Warzycha guided the Crew to the 2009 Supporters’ Shield title, with a 13-7-10 record, and into the quarterfinals of the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League. In recognition of his efforts, he was named a finalist for MLS Coach of the Year honors in 2009.
He followed that up with a 14-8-8 season in 2010 – just the second time in the club’s history that it reached the 50-point plateau – highlighted by a return trip to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and a run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. The 2011 Crew sits in first place in the Eastern Conference, with an 11-8-7 record and 40 points.
“Since taking over as head coach, Robert has proven himself to be an effective leader on and off the field, and an outstanding teacher capable of getting the most out of his players,” said Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group. “Robert has done a tremendous job leading the Crew through a significant period of transition while guiding the team to first place in the Eastern Conference. I am confident in his ability to win championships, and our family is delighted that Robert will continue his long tenure with the Crew.”
A native of Siemkowice, Poland, Warzycha joined the Crew during its inaugural 1996 season and he remains the club’s all-time career assists leader, with 61. He added 19 goals in regular-season play and finished with two goals and nine assists in 17 career playoff games. A two-time MLS All-Star and the club’s MVP in 2000, Warzycha spent the 2002 U.S. Open Cup championship season as a player/assistant coach, before moving to the sidelines full-time in 2003.
“I want to thank the Hunt Family and Mark McCullers for giving me the opportunity to continue to work for this great organization and with a great group of people,” Warzycha said. “It has been exciting to see our vision taking shape this season, and I’m very happy that we’ll be continuing to work toward our goal of bringing another championship to Columbus. I’m encouraged by the direction we’re headed, and it is rewarding to know that the organization believes in my coaching philosophy.”
Prior to joining the Crew, Warzycha made 47 appearances with the Polish National Team from 1988-95 and enjoyed a three-year stint with Everton of the English Premier League (1991-94).